American first-generation college students’ narratives of positive relationships with their school counsellors

Waalkes et al. / Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools / February 2023

High School College Counselor with Student

Trusting and supportive relationships with school counsellors can help first-generation college students access college despite barriers. In this narrative inquiry, 11 first-generation college students in the United States shared stories of their positive relationships with their former high school counsellors. After an iterative and consensus-based data analysis process, the authors summarised our participants’ grand narrative with five themes: family context, school counselling delivery, relationships with school counsellors, impact of relationships with school counsellors, and suggested improvements. Participants valued how school counsellors helped them advocate for themselves, build their confidence, and feel encouraged and accountable through individual meetings, career counselling, and college guidance. School counsellors can offer targeted and relational interventions to help first-generation college students access and persist through college.